sunnyskies12's Profile

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Does anyone actually like Sandra Lee?

This is a fun question for chow.com readers! I personally have the opposite cooking style of Sandra's because I prefer to make everything from scratch, so I occasionally find her shows mildly entertaining but not educational to my craft. However, I respect her as a person, because her style is perfect for people who want to cook something but probably won't cook as often or at all without easier recipes. I do not share the vitriol that some cooks have for her, and I think she fills a niche that is very appreciated by thousands of people. If I didn't have time to cook and worked 1-2 jobs with kids, this might be a necessity. So while I feel lucky that I have time to cook, I don't look down on those who don't. Also, this is my hobby, and I respect that some people have different hobbies and want to spend their free time doing something else.

Cook's Illustrated baklava

I've made the CI recipe three times now, my husband loves it, I really like it too. I've never made baklava before that, nor eaten it much, so I didn't have anything to compare it to. But it's delicious!!!

May 01, 2015
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

First time poster looking for advice on four cheese lasagna recipe. Hello all!

I'm not sure about the freezing/making ahead, but just vouching that this recipe is GREAT!!!

Apr 20, 2015
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

Amazing Pie Recipe calls for uncooked eggs, how safe is this?

If the yolks get to 160 then they are safe; however, because the whites aren't cooked, you are potentially exposing yourself to salmonella. I posted a ton of information about pasteurized (safe) eggs above, if you're interested :)

Apr 17, 2015
sunnyskies12 in General Topics

Amazing Pie Recipe calls for uncooked eggs, how safe is this?

You can use pasteurized eggs next time; this is what Cook's Illustrated said about them:

"Because pasteurized eggs are slowly but surely appearing in grocery stores across the country, we decided to see how they measure up to ordinary supermarket eggs when put through the paces of frying, scrambling, baking, and whipping. Except for a little insignia (which varies from brand to brand) identifying them as pasteurized, the pasteurized eggs looked just like ordinary eggs. But when we cracked them open to fry and scramble them, we immediately noticed significant differences. Whereas the shells of the ordinary eggs were brittle and cracked cleanly, with little effort, the shells of the pasteurized shells were harder to crack-almost malleable-a result of the wax sealant holding the pieces together. More surprising were the cloudy, watery, pasteurized whites that poured out of the cracked shells. They did not have the body or jelly-like texture of ordinary eggs. Even so, once in the pan, the pasteurized eggs fried and scrambled at the same rate as ordinary eggs and cooked up in just the same way. In a tasting, a few tasters said the regular scrambled eggs were "creamier" and "more fragrant" than the pasteurized, but the distinction was slight. Most tasters could not detect a difference.

Next we baked two génoise sponge cakes-cakes leavened by whole egg foam-to see how the pasteurized eggs would perform in the batter and in the oven. The pasteurized eggs whipped up in the same manner and amount of time as the ordinary eggs, and the batters made with each type of egg were identical (though only the batter made with pasteurized eggs could be safely licked off a spoon). The final products, however, were not the same. The génoise made with ordinary eggs had a better rise and a springier, softer crumb than the cake made with pasteurized eggs, which was a bit sunken and dry. Tasters also found the latter cake slightly less rich tasting, but overall they thought the pasteurized-egg sponge cake tasted fine.

The results of the two remaining tests—for which we made a French meringue (eggs whites whipped with granulated sugar) and mayonnaise—would serve as our gold standard for performance and flavor. Getting fragile, finicky egg whites to whip up into a lustrous meringue can be tricky, and we doubted the runny, cloudy pasteurized whites would be up to the task. While the whites from the pasteurized eggs did take about twice the amount of time to whip into soft peaks (Bartholdi had warned us that this would happen), once they "came to," they were fine: voluminous, light, and airy. After sugar was folded into the foams and the meringues were baked in a moderate oven, the appearance of the pasteurized meringue suffered some, with a slight crackling on the surface, but there was no difference in taste. Both batches of mayonnaise were complete successes. The mixtures emulsified in the food processor with speed and little effort, and there were no noticeable taste differences. Both were creamy, silky smooth, and delicious.

Our conclusion? We still prefer and continue to use ordinary eggs for most recipes, especially those for baked goods. But if you are wary of making mayonnaise, eggnog, or dressing for Caesar salad using raw eggs, pasteurized eggs are a safe and acceptable option."

Published September 1, 2001. From Cook's Illustrated.

Also, I have just started looking for pasteurized eggs so I'm not sure about other stores, but my Sprouts and Vons both sell them in Santee, California. The brand is Davidson's Safest Choice. I didn't spot them at first, until I googled a photo and kept my eyes out for the colors on the carton. You can also check out their website to find out where they are sold near you: http://www.safeeggs.com/store-locator

They are a little more expensive than regular eggs; for example, Sprouts normally sells a dozen eggs for $3.29 and up, and these pasteurized (cage free) were $4.39. Vons sold them for $3.99 (not cage free).

I just used them for the first time today to make chocolate mousse, and it was so nice knowing that it was safer to eat! Usually I just take the risk but feel very nervous about it! The whites look a little cloudy and they take longer to beat to soft peaks in a recipe, but keep going...they'll get there eventually and then they're fine. They also seemed to be more difficult to separate - out of 6 eggs, I had two yolks and whites that I was trying to separate that got blended together, so you'll want to be a little more cautious if you're trying to separate them.

So handy and I'm so grateful they carry these now!!!

Apr 17, 2015
sunnyskies12 in General Topics

Breville customer service review

Thanks for sharing! I'm so tired of my kitchenaid products breaking after 18-24 months (just past their flimsy 1 year warranty), especially because they are pretty expensive. They are definitely not the products that our grandmothers were buying. My food processor looks to be about to hit the tanker (following their ice cream machine attachment leaking, and my classic mixer not working on the low speed anymore), so I was researching Breville and the first thing I wanted to know is how is their customer service. Kitchenaid's attitude is after one year, you are out of luck. Thanks for taking the time to share!!!

PS While Kitchenaid customer service policy (not the people) is IMO awful, I have had great customer service from Oxo, Le Creuset, and Microplane, and will continue to purchase from them with confidence!

Apr 05, 2015
sunnyskies12 in Cookware

Claussen Sauerkraut

Also down here, and hopefully applicable in North County, I've seen Claussen's Sauerkraut at Albertsons, Food4Less, Ralphs, and Vons.

Apr 01, 2015
sunnyskies12 in San Diego

Best Store-Bought Puff Pastry ???

And I recently read at www.cooksillustrated.com that DuFour puff pastry is made purely with butter, versus Pepperidge farm which is made with butter and shortening. I think I'd like to do a side-by-side taste test!

Apr 01, 2015
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

INFOGRAPHIC -- Cakes through U.S. History -- How many do you know?

Oooh, fun question! I'd only heard of Boston Cream Pie and Baked Alaska, but was confused about what the latter was, exactly. I love www.cookscountry.com and have made the Lane Cake - a really great recipe, but not a repeat for me - I'm not big on bourbon in desserts but I wanted to try it because of the rave reviews online. I would still recommend it though! I loved their recipe for Wellesley Fudge Cake - the frosting really does taste like fudge. And I have their Chocolate Blackout Cake and Minnehaha Cakes bookmarked to try. I love their recipes!!!

Where Does Trader Joe's Food Come From?

Very fun to read! I LOVE Guittard's Choc-Au-Lait (White chocolate chips) so I will definitely pick up a bag of trader joe's white chocolate chips next time I'm baking with them for a little taste test!

Mar 24, 2015
sunnyskies12 in Features

Best Store-Bought Puff Pastry ???

I have seen DuFour puff pastry at my local Sprouts stores.

Feb 21, 2015
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

Do people really (and I mean "really") like Girl Scout Cookies?

I think my tastes have changed, too. I'm eating thin mints right now and they're not that great. The outer minty layer is spot on, but the cookie itself doesn't taste that fresh. It's not stale, but I'm used to homemade cookies and this just can't compare. I'll be trying out some recipes to make a fresher tasting version, and I have a feeling that the actual Girl Scout cookie isn't going to do so well in the taste test.

Jan 26, 2015
sunnyskies12 in General Topics

What food gifts did you make / buy this year ?

What a fun question! I made/will make Cream Cheese and Molasses Bread, Naturally Sweet Wheat Bread, and Eggnog-Oat Scones with a Whisky Glaze (all from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking) for dinner contributions to get togethers this week. For desserts, I made Blackberry Bliss Bars, Macadamia Eggnog Creams, Raspberry Hot Cocoa Mix (all from Cook's Country) and Gingered Sugar Cookies (America's Test Kitchen). For food gifts, I picked up my favorite Guittard butterscotch chips and Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Paste for my brother-in-law's fiancee. Can't wait for Christmas!

Dec 23, 2014
sunnyskies12 in General Topics

Homemade Marshmallow fail? HELP?

I had this happen the first time I made marshmallows, too - the trick is to pour the hot syrup into just the right spot in your mixing bowl. If it hits the center of the mixer blade it will fly all over, and if it hits the side of the bowl it will solidify. So aim for the space in between those two places.

Dec 02, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

Claussen Sauerkraut

This may not be super helpful, but I saw it at the Walmart Grocery in La Mesa for $3.48/32 oz.

Nov 28, 2014
sunnyskies12 in San Diego

How to halve baking recipes?

I was just trying to do some research myself on the topic :) Anyway, I've been baking 1,000s of recipes divided by two for my husband and I, so I wanted to offer some advice. I use a set of measuring spoons that goes as tiny as 1/32 tsp (Progressive GT-3520 International 19-Piece Measuring Cup and Spoon Set). I actually use 1/32 a lot! LOL. I also halve eggs (1/2 eggs weighs 7/8 oz) whenever I need to. If you don't have a scale, you can google the Tablespoon measurements of an egg online. I have mini baking pans for everything: pie dish, cake pans, tart pans, bundt pan, tube pan, and springform pans, mostly from Amazon. Here are some examples:

9" pie recipe divided by two - use a 7" pie plate
9" round cake recipe divided by two - use a 6" round cake pan
12 cup bundt/tube pan divided by two - use a 6 cup mini bundt/tube
13 x 9 pan divided by two in an 8 or 9" round or square pan
13 x 9 pan divided by four in a 6" round pan

Sure, I use my full-size pans, too, but that's when I know I can share the food before it goes stale. I also like the tinier size for the first time I'm making a recipe, so I know if we'll like it :) It has almost always worked really well to just divide all of the ingredients by half. I did just have someone from King Arthur Flour advise that if I'm dividing a yeast recipe by two, to just keep the amount of yeast the same. But I always divided that by two, as well, and that still worked fine. Happy baking!

Nov 14, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

Your favorite, most reliable Cake Cook Book

I would focus more on what's going wrong, rather than the recipes, personally. Have you gotten a cheap oven thermometer to make sure that your oven is at temperature? You might try calling America's Test Kitchen radio to see if you can get on air with Chris and Bridget - I'll bet they can solve this mystery! Of course, with it being 9.5 years ago, hopefully you have already :)

From their website: Call the show now: 855-34-COOKS

You just leave a voicemail, and I guess if you're chosen to be a caller on the show, they'll call you back. Hope this all turned out well for you!

Nov 10, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

Anyone have the Cook's Illustrated Lemon Pudding Cake recipe?

Sorry, just now seeing this... Cook's Illustrated published their first version of Lemon Pudding Cake in their January/February 1995 edition. Then Cook's Country published a different version in April/May 2009. Here are both recipes:

Lemon Pudding Cake (Cook's Illustrated)

Published January 1, 1995.

Why this recipe works:

In developing our pudding cake recipe, we baked some 15 pudding cakes, noticing that those made with lemon or orange juice came out especially well, while those flavored in other ways tended to have flimsy, fast-dissolving tops and rubbery, dense bottoms. We eventually deduced that it was the acidity of the citrus juices that made the difference. Because the juice lightly clabbered the milk-based batter, causing it to thicken, the frothy upper layer became stiffer and more stable and thus better able to puff. At the same time, the acidic juice undercut the thickening power of the flour, making a more tender custard. To shore up the cake part of those pudding cake recipes made with coffee, chocolate, and vanilla, we added an extra egg white.

Serves 4 to 6

This pudding cake can be made in any of the following: 6 - 3/4 cup custard cups; 4 - 1 1/3 cup ramekins or miniature souffle cups; 1 - 9" round cake pan; 1 - 8" square cake pan. All pudding cakes, regardless of pan size, require the same baking time.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1/8 teaspoon table salt
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 - 3 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice, strained, from 1 to 2 lemons
1 cup whole milk
4 large egg whites, at room temperature


1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter pan or baking molds of choice. Lay folded dish towel in bottom of roasting pan and set molds or pan inside. Bring several quarts of water to boil for water bath.

2. Meanwhile, in mixing bowl mash 2 tablespoons butter together with sugar and salt with back of wooden spoon until crumbly. Beat in yolks, then flour, mixing until smooth. Slowly beat in lemon zest and juice, then stir in milk. Beat egg whites to stiff, moist peaks. Gently whisk whites into batter just until no large lumps remain.

3. Immediately ladle (don’t pour) batter into pan, custard cups, or ramekins. Set baking pan on oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of baking pan or molds. Bake until pudding cake center is set and springs back when gently touched, about 25 minutes. Remove roasting pan from oven and let pan or molds continue to stand in water bath for 10 minutes. Pudding cakes can be served warm, at room temperature, or even chilled.

Pudding Cake Hints

1. Be sure to whisk the egg whites into the batter instead of folding them in. Since the batter is about the consistency of milk, folding would flatten the fluffy whites.

2. Rather than pouring the batter, ladle it; otherwise the first cups get all the froth and the later cups get all the batter.

3. Set the roasting pan on an oven rack and pour boiling water into the pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the molds. This water bath keeps the temperature low enough to prevent the eggs from curdling.

And #2:

Lemon Pudding Cake
From Cook's Country | April​/May 2009

Why this recipe works:

For the brightest lemon flavor in our Lemon Pudding Cake, we used a full half-cup of lemon juice. To coax even more flavor from the lemons, we creamed a bit of grated zest with the butter and sugar. A bit of cornstarch gently firmed the pudding layer without muddying the lemon flavor.

To prevent the top layer of the cake from deflating, we beat sugar into the egg whites. This stabilized the whites and resulted in a high, golden, and fluffy cake. For the creamiest texture, it was important to bake the cake in a water bath. The hot water protected the pudding from cooking too quickly.

Like magic, pudding cakes separate into two layers during baking: airy and soufflélike on top, dense and custardy below. We wanted a foolproof recipe for a creamy pudding, tender cake, and bright lemon flavor.

Serves 8

This dessert is best served warm or at room temperature the same day it is made. Scoop it out and serve in a bowl.


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons grated zest and 1/2 cup juice from 4 lemons
5 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
2 quarts boiling water


1. MIX BATTER Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 8-inch square baking dish. Whisk flour and cornstarch in bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1/2 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Slowly add milk and lemon juice, mixing until just combined.

2. BEAT EGG WHITES Using clean bowl and whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly add remaining sugar until whites are firm and glossy, about 1 minute. Whisk one-third of whites into batter, then gently fold in remaining whites, one scoop at a time, until well combined.

3. BAKE Place kitchen towel in bottom of roasting pan and arrange prepared baking dish on towel. Spoon batter into prepared dish. Carefully place pan on oven rack and pour boiling water into pan until water comes halfway up the sides of baking dish. Bake until surface is golden brown and edges are set (center should jiggle slightly when gently shaken), about 60 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool at least 1 hour. Serve.

Using a Water Bath

The water lowers the temperature surrounding the baking dish for gentle, even cooking.

1. To prevent the baking dish from sliding, line the bottom of the roasting pan with a kitchen towel.

2. Set the roasting pan on the oven rack and carefully pour boiling water into the pan, partway up the sides of the baking dish.

3. After baking, promptly remove the baking dish from the water/ Let the water cool before moving the water batch.

These sound delicious and now I'm thinking of trying both recipes side by side! I love all things Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country/America's Test Kitchen!

Nov 10, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

Ebinger's Blackout Cake Recipe in Cooks Country Magazine

RE: Time is running out, I totally agree! I have never had the original cake, but just heard about it on America's Test Kitchen radio, and am planning to make the Cook's Country version. I really like your point; they are worried to release their recipes, I guess, but if they wait too long, i.e., another 50 years, all of the people who care because they tastes the recipes as children won't be baking anymore and the new generation won't remember their cakes so therefore won't want the recipes anyway. I think that they should definitely share them and your post made me realize the time-sensitivity of it!

Nov 05, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

Red Lentils?

Hi! Cook's Illustrated wrote an article about different types of lentils, and this is what they said about the red lentils:

"These small orange-red lentils "completely disintegrate when cooked." They made a soup that looked "anemic."

By the way, I highly recommend an online subscription to www.cooksillustrated.com - I've had mine nearly a year now, and if you're into learning about all sorts of cooking things, you will learn so much! I'm only sad that it will probably take me a lifetime to read all of their content - LOL.

Oct 21, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

What do you make with dark rye flour?

I believe that pumpernickel flour and dark rye flour are the same thing - that's my guess, because I have the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook, and they also refer to medium rye and light rye flours. You could call their baking hotline if you want to be sure. It's 855-371-2253.

For recipes, I would recommend the king arthur flour website! I have so many beloved recipes from my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook using pumpernickel flour that I can't even begin to list them, but they include breads, rolls, muffins, crackers, and even cookies! It's quite the tome (though worth if it you bake with whole grains alot), so to dip you toe in the water, I'd recommend their website! Enjoy!

Oct 04, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

Your Giant American Refrigerator Is Making You Fat And Poor

I am thin and cook everything from scratch, and I'm really glad that I have a normal (American) fridge. I keep all of my spices on the top shelf, along with some live yeast, and usually whatever ingredients I need to keep for a recipe so my husband doesn't eat them. We have gourmet cheeses, cream, buttermilk, milk & yogurt, all eaten very much in moderation, but those take space. There's red velvet cupcakes in there at the moment, but that doesn't mean we're eating them nonstop. And then all of our homecooked leftovers are on the main/bottom shelf. Between the water bottles and beer there too, it feels pretty full, and there's only two of us! Yes, oversized portions will usually cause weight gain, but that's definitely not correlated to the size of your fridge! And of course these days we tend to eat a lot of different cuisines, so we have more condiments - right now on the door I have the Asian ones (chili garlic sauces, oyster sauce, soy sauce, etc) plus the Italian ingredients (sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies) and the Latin ones (chiles in adobo, hot sauce) and the French (marsala wine, dijon mustard)...my point is, it's lovely to have space to keep those ingredients, and all of mine are still fresh and get used regularly to make healthy food. And when it's time to entertain, I probably could use more space!

And while it's true that the French have tiny fridges and walk everywhere every day for fresh groceries, and are thin as a result of that, the two aren't necessarily correlated. I also use grocery shopping as a way to get my exercise - I bike to the store every day - but I still really like the size of my fridge for all the reasons noted above.

Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists

Wow, this is an awesome article, and is motivating me not to engage (and to remember, as I'm pretty gullible, to ask myself if it is a troll). It's tough to tell, because I know some nicer people who just love to debate and really do believe what they're saying, but if it seems to be a troll, I will try to ignore! This was a really interesting finding; thanks again for sharing!

Our 1st time in Paris!! Want to do it right!!

If I could do it over again... Well, for us, our first meal in Paris was quite bad (sub sandwich with no dressing, subpar bread), and after that we hit the computer and were reading Yelp reviews to choose where to go. If I'd planned ahead, I would have actually tried to make reservations from home. It took us a while to get a working cell phone there, and there was a holiday one day, and with spotty internet this was all a huge pain in the butt. Also, you often need reservations because the French eat dinner for 2 hours and the restaurants are tiny (I am overgeneralizing to simplify) so often there were 7PM and 9PM seatings. We found really nice middle-priced restaurants with very high yelp reviews and were able to make reservations for most. It just would have been nice to do this from home (I assume email would work) instead of during our vacation with all of the technical problems. Once we did have reservations, though, the quality of food was very nice and we had a great time! Now for a totally different approach: We had friends who went, and never made a single reservation - there are so many restaurants that if you don't care so much about exactly where you eat, you can just walk around until you find a place that has availability. Alternatively, we heard that your hotel concierge can often help with reservations [we rented an apartment so didn't have this option.]

Hopefully you can learn from our very big learning curve and have more fun traveling around and spend less time making reservations :)

Have a GREAT time!!!!!! :)

Sep 21, 2014
sunnyskies12 in France

I'm Going Deaf Eating Out in LA

I agree that it's distracting and unpleasant... my husband has always preferred a quiet restaurant, and ever since we visited France, and saw that yes indeed, it can be done, you can have a very pleasant, quiet meal, I notice the loud noise levels even more here! In France, it is just a matter of respect not to be so loud. Oh well, different culture!

Fancy Popcorn

Cook's Country October 2013's issue has a bunch of gourmet popcorn recipes, all of which were a huge hit in my house! Highly recommended; they're also all available (paid subscription) at www.cookscountry.com.

Sep 21, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

Fancy Cake Recipe

If this is to your taste, a Baba au Rhum comes to mind! My family loved Ina Garten's recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...) and kept raving about it. It wasn't my all time favorite cake, but I bake constantly and I know my favorite tastes. However, it sounds like it might fit your quest :) P.S. You need a small tube pan or bundt pan, not the full sized one.

Sep 21, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

ISO Fancy, elegant plated dessert

I love to bake any type of dessert, and recently made the Chocolate Raspberry Torte from Cook's Illustrated, and I just remember thinking then and now what an elegant dessert it was! You can either sign up for a free 2 week website trial, or it was published in their November 2010 issue.


Sep 21, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking

What Is America's Worst Restaurant Chain?

I second the votes for Sbarros and Subway. I always felt disappointed just walking into Sbarros, even before I learned how to cook and my taste buds got spoiled. Subway used to be okay, but one time we went there for breakfast, after I'd started cooking, and the breakfast sandwich was so nasty/fake I will never step foot in a Subway again. LOL.

Sep 21, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Features

Baking pie on pizza stone? Yay or nay?

I heard a caller on America's Test Kitchen Radio who wondered why his dad's kitchen always smelled so awful after he was using the baking stone, and Chris/Bridgette's explanation was that he was putting his pizza straight onto the stone (no parchment paper liner) and then either not cleaning it or not cleaning it well enough. But if your cleaning is doing a sufficient job, sounds great!

Sep 11, 2014
sunnyskies12 in Home Cooking